Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

Hi again.
Well, we managed to get through today without any more scary phonecalls from BCH, much to my relief.
We are really busy now though, because we just don't know when we're likely to get the summons - I've been out today and yesterday trying to pick up some of the stuff we need. (You have NO idea how hard it is to find button-front, short-sleeved pyjamas!)
I spoke to the Cardiac Liaison Nurse at the hospital here in Cardiff yesterday afternoon, about Charlie's INR testing.
I'm sure I've mentioned before, but once he has had his surgery, he will be on warfarin for the rest of his life - an aggressive blood-thinner. He has to be monitored regularly to make sure his blood is neither so thick that it might clot, nor so thin that he will bruise or bleed excessively. This figure is known as INR (International Normalised Ratio - doesn't give you a whole lot of info, but I thought you might be wondering what the initials stood for!) A normal INR is around 1, but as far as I know, Charlie will need to maintain his between 2 and 3.
Many people who are on warfarin will need to go to their GP to have their blood tested, and will have their blood taken via venopuncture (basically a needle stuck into a vein to obtain about 5mls of blood).
For obvious reasons, this is not ideal for Charlie - tests are initially daily, gradually reducing to around monthly, and I think the novelty of being stuck with a needle would wear off pretty quickly for him.
But there is an alternative - a Coaguchek machine. This is a little gadget, much like the small machines used by diabetics to test their blood sugar.
Instead of a full blood draw, we will only need to acquire a single drop of Charlie's blood with a little finger-prick device.
You'll understand, I'm sure, why this is our blood tester of preference!
However, the Coaguchek meters are more than £800, and that's before you consider the test strips, which are around £80 for 24.
Nonetheless, Pete and I decided way back when that we would buy a Coaguchek for Charlie when the time came, to save him from having daily venous blood draws.
So, back to my chat with our Cardiac Liaison Nurse.
I wondered if she would be able to give us some training on how to use the machine, and wanted her advice on where we should buy it from.
I couldn't believe my ears when she said that the hospital would order one for Charlie at no cost to us! You've gotta love the NHS! She will also write to our GP to ask him to prescribe the test strips, along with the warfarin.
Yippee! One less thing to worry about!
She's coming to our house in a couple of weeks to train Pete and me in how to use the machine, so we'll be all set once Charlie's ready to come home after his op.
I can't believe how manic everything feels at the moment, and we don't even have a date yet. Pete is so busy at work, and I'm trying desperately to get the house and everything else organised, although I do feel like I'm constantly playing catch-up.
Oh well, I hear another load of washing calling me!

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